Tuesday, October 9, 2001

Divers stand on the end of a 9,000-foot, 55-inch
diameter pipe floating in the waters Sunday near
the Natural Energy Lab of Hawaii in Kailua-Kona.

Giant deep sea pipeline
arrives at Kona lab

Associated Press

KAILUA-KONA >> Installation of a plastic 9,000-foot-long deep sea pipeline was delayed yesterday because of a minor equipment failure, one day after it was towed 20 miles down the Kohala Coast to the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii, where it will supply cold seawater for commercial fisheries projects.

The sinking of the 55-inch diameter high-density polyethylene pipeline 3,000 feet to the ocean floor was postponed to tomorrow after a nylon rope holding the pipeline failed at the farthest point from shore yesterday.

Once placed on the bottom, the pipeline will supply cold sea water from 3,000 feet below sea level, about 1,000 feet deeper than previous NELH pipelines.

"This is 12 years of work coming to fruition," said Tom Daniel, the NELH scientific and technical director.

The pathogen-free, 38-degree Fahrenheit water will allow tenants in the 547-acre Hawaii Ocean Science and Technology Park to start commercial fisheries projects.

The actual assembly of the $21 million project began in August, when 55-foot lengths of the HDPE pipeline were joined into nine 1,000-foot sections at Kawaihae Harbor. On Sunday, the 2,000-ton plastic pipeline wound its way along the Kohala Coast, accompanied by a small fleet of support vessels.

Healy Tibbitts Builders Inc. of Honolulu positioned one end of the of the pipeline about 200 feet offshore, over an intake emerging from a 400-foot tunnel which begins on the shoreline.

The pumping and distribution systems are scheduled to be completed in July 2002. Once that happens, scientists will begin sucking up the first of 27,000 gallons per minute of deep water and 40,500 gallons per minute of surface water.

NELH is currently served by two pipelines installed in 1987-88 -- a 40-inch pipe that stretches 6,000 feet offshore to the 2,200-foot depth, and an 18-inch pipeline which goes to the 2,200-foot level.

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